With more and more budget being directed towards digital media, the PPC auction is becoming ever more competitive, making it a tough world for digital marketers. Could Artificial Intelligence (AI) be the answer?

Today, AI is making great strides forwards, as computer processing power is at last able to afford experts in the field the opportunity to deploy increasingly sophisticated AI programs. We’re still a way off what is known as “general” AI—essentially the ambition to create robots that think, feel or behave like humans. However, the application of AI to everyday tasks is being seen more and more regularly. So-called ’narrow’ AI isn’t about chasing sentience (although it is to some extent on the path to this), but applying AI to specific problems, such as directing efficient PPC spend.

So how can AI work in this field? This guide explores five ways AI can improve your PPC and aims to give some insights on how AI can drive lead generation or sales, reduce cost per lead or per sale, free up your time to focus on other tasks and take your business to the next level.

1. It decides if you should bid on your own brand terms

Some brands are still unsure about whether to bid on their own brand terms. Some choose to bid on their own brand terms, irrespective of the Cost Per Click and resultant ROI, in order to ensure maximum brand protection. However, this isn't always viable, particularly for challenger brands in highly competitive markets.

Where AI can add value is that it automatically and optimally ensures efficient use of budget against set ROI targets. It can also be given set parameters to work within, or report on, whether it is necessary to bid on brand terms, if that is one of the parameters. Essentially, when using AI, it's no longer necessary to ensure the PPC team is up to scratch on this score, as the AI does it for you.

2. It decides if you should bid on your competitor’s brand terms

The same methodology can be applied in reverse. For some brands, to compete using competitor brand terms would go against their brand so much that the performance gained isn't worth the perceived losses in brand positioning, even if logically they are in the same space. Again, the AI can be set parameters in which to work for those concerned about this. But for others, where performance outweighs all other considerations, the AI can be given free rein to spot opportunities and bid to beat the competition at every turn. And should the competitor (or competitors) "wake up" and drive up Cost Per Click for a particular term, such that it ends up detrimentally lowering ROI, the AI will spot this too and adjust its strategy accordingly.

AI is especially powerful here as it can assess endless variants in real time, a task that no solely human team could possibly complete.

3. It can automatically manage PPC in multiple regional locations

For brands with complex business requirements across digital and physical store presences, running PPC campaigns that keep pace with the demands of national presence can be overwhelming. And while complex PPC campaigns exist that do this well, for AI, handling this complexity is a breeze. Reactions to local changes such as capacity, opening times, local competition, local demand spikes, local search behaviour and so on, happen instantaneously. This ensures every nuance in every campaign for every store or every variable is handled simultaneously in real time. Additionally, as well as allowing PPC to be tailored geographically, AI also allows for centralised control.

4. It expands your keyphrase universe

Without the use of more sophisticated tools, the number of keywords and phrases in campaigns may be kept to a small, manageable number. Even where sophisticated tools are doing a good job, integrated AI will still have the edge as it is free from any cognitive bias or the limitations of any human intervention to discover and test new terms. It is able to perform the task constantly, moving instantly with consumer trends and competitor activity.

5. It drives relentless bid management efficiencies

The key difference AI offers is its ability to learn. You don't program AI where it follows lines of code to a known logical conclusion, you train it on the success criteria and outcomes you are looking for and it learns what works and what doesn't. And it does this in a fraction of the time it would typically take to deploy test and learn processes.

AI pursues an unlimited number of strategies to achieve your objectives and optimise according to Cost Per Lead, Cost Per Acquisition, margin, ROI, customer value, stock levels or other factors. It makes infinite numbers of bid adjustments to chase available opportunities for growth and efficiency to meet commercial objectives.

Is AI for me?

The debate rages on about AI, such as job security, being unable to see the inner workings and other safety issues. However, in the marketing world, there are brands out there already embracing AI in this field and, more importantly, benefitting from it significantly. Which means others are losing out.


By Alex Craven, managing director at Jaywing Intelligence

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